Plot: What’s it about?
For many people, myself namely included, Footloose holds a place as one of the defining movies of the 80’s. Sure, my generation may end in “X” and I hear there’s even a “Y” out there now, thus denoting the inevidable aging process; but I digress. Footloose, like so many John Hughes films wasn’t only something that we watched at the movie theaters, but the songs were so overplayed (at a then “new” MTV) that it’s impossible not to hear any one of them without thinking of Kevin Bacon’s then ever so popular “spike” haircut. I can vaguely remember my mother taking my younger brother and I to the movie saying that it was supposed to be really good and that Kevin Bacon would be a really big star after it. Well, she was right (though upon further review, I suspect she read that in an article…not to take anything away from dear old Mom) and it did bring Kevin Bacon, game and all, into the mainstream. Still, I prefer him in Animal House, but that’s for another time and place.
We meet Ren MacCormack (Kevin Bacon) as he has just moved to the middle of nowhere. Actually it’s Beaumont and it’s the typical town that you might find in the South some 60 years ago (keep in mind the movie is twenty years old). Music and dancing have been outlawed from the town and the kids, though they hate it, go along with it. Ren, though, being the new kid from Chicago, has no trouble blaring Heavy Metal from his yellow VW bug and it’s not too long that he’s stopped by the local law enforcement and given a good talking to. He becomes infatuated with the minister’s (John Lithgow) daughter, Ariel (Lori Singer…with the best eyes in the world). Ariel is the typical “minister’s daughter”, rebellious and will essentially do anything and everything to make a statement. Ren, it seems, it just the catalyst that she needs to do this. As Ren’s infectious behavior starts to spread, they want to organize a dance. Ren’s buddy, Willard (Chris Penn) adds a bit of comic relief to the plot as well.
The story is more of a teen angst for the early 80’s (that John Hughes later covered…over and over), but it has some great dance scenes and if you’re into that sort of thing, an unforgettable gymnastics routine by Bacon. I myself skipped that scene! Look for a then very young Sarah Jessica Parker in one of her first roles. While Footloose might not have set the world on fire, it was very popular at the time. Footloose is more of a benchmark for 80’s corniness; but it did Kevin Bacon a good start and added a whole new depth and dimension for the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game (that even he’s capitalizing on now). Suspend your disbelief for 107 minutes and you might just find yourself singing songs that you thought you’d forget…or hoped to, anyway!
Video: How does it look?
Paramount’s transfers from their films in the 70’s and 80’s is fairly inconsistent. While the majority of them look fair, this looks dirty, likely from the sub-par source material. The 1.85:1 anamorphic image is still the best I’ve seen it look (for the life of me, I can’t remember how it looked in the theater in 1984), but there’s still plenty of room for improvement here. There seems to be some halos in a few of the outdoor scenes, but aside from the dinginess of the print; I found no noticeable errors. While this won’t set the world on fire with it’s video quality, it will look better on smaller screens as my 55″ showed more of the errors. Don’t let this stop you from buying the disc, but don’t be expecting a reference-quality video presentation, either.
Audio: How does it sound?
Paramount must be really proud of their ability to re-mix Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes from their Dolby Surround beginings. Attached to the box (in the form of a sticker) is “Re-mixed in Dolby Digital 5.1”. The sound, arguably, does sound fuller and richer, but it does have sort of an “empty” feel to it that so many other films have. Essentially it dates the film. Dialogue is rich and doesn’t suffer from any distortion, and the best way to hear all of your favorite songs is like they have it here. While it’s not the best soundtrack in the world, it’s right up there and this is the way to hear it (for the boy).
Supplements: What are the extras?
Seeing as how the director has passed on and Bacon, Lithgow, Weist and Sarah Jessica Parker are all still highly active and bankable stars, I can see why none of them could participate on a commentary track. While there isn’t a commentary track (or anything else), how about Lori Singer and Chris Penn to a track for a future SE of the film? No? Just a thought…